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Posts Tagged ‘Peruvian chicken’

This weekend my husband’s family had a “pollada,” which is a chicken-fundraiser.  For instance, at one pollada I’ve been to they raised money for my husband’s uncle’s cancer treatments.  The family sell plates of food and drinks (lots of beer).  The point is to try to sell delicious food that doesn’t cost much, so chicken plus some combination of rice/potatoes/corn/salad is pretty typical.  The family that hosts the pollada deducts the costs of the food (although nothing for their time and effort) and then gives the rest of the money to the needy party.  This is one way that Peruvian communities operate without much of a formal welfare system in place.  While many of these families don’t qualify for government assistance, their relatives and friends take responsibility for helping them out when they are in a difficult situation.

I like to sleep in on the weekends, but on Saturday morning I woke up at 9 AM to go help my husband’s family prepare for the pollada.  They had actually done a lot of the prepation the day before.  When I arrived at their house, the salad was already made and the potatoes had been boiled.  The chicken had been marinating overnight and the salad dressing, red chili sauce, and green salsa de huacatai were already prepared.  When I arrived, my father-in-law and my brother-in-law (who is only seven) went outside to set up the fire for the chicken, the tables for the customers, and a tarp in the back yard since it looked like rain.  I stayed inside with my mother-in-law and peeled mountains of potatoes and washed dishes.  (Peruvians don’t generally eat potato skins – they cook potatoes with the skins on and peel them afterward.)

After peeling potatoes, it was time to carry the food outside.  When I got to the backyard, I saw a giant pot on top of several bricks.  Beneath the bricks there was firewood heating up the oil, marinade, and chicken.

My father-in-law watched the pot of chicken while I stayed at the table with the food and spent the next few hours dishing out plates and handing people beer and soda.

Periodically I had to holler at whatever group of children was playing soccer at the time to stay away from the fire.  Most of their parents seemed unconcerned, but I was nervous by how many times the soccer ball ended up right next to the fire.  Some of the kids spoke English, and some of them only spoke Spanish.  I noticed that when something startles me (like a small child stumbling precariously near an open flame) that I automatically holler in English, then have to pause and remember to speak in Spanish.  Emergencies make it really obvious what your native language is.

My in-laws put on music and a steady stream of people trickled in, ate, and then left all day.  Around 5 PM I went to the English mass for palm Sunday vigil, came back, and found the party still in full swing.  We ended up leaving around 10 PM (which was early) and I was pretty wiped out after 12 hours, but when I spoke to my husband’s family today, they said people were there until 4 AM.  That’s a party!  I don’t know exactly how much money they raised, but I would guess around $800 or $1000 after deducting the expenses of the chicken and beer.

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